AT&T to end unlimited pricing plan for mobile data

Offers $15 for 200 megabytes

AT&T Inc plans to stop offering an unlimited pricing plan for new subscribers to its mobile data services, a move that it says will cut prices for as many as 98 percent of its customers.

The exclusive U.S. provider for Apple Inc’s iPhone said the new metered pricing, which takes effect June 7, means the more customers use their phones for web surfing the more they will have to pay for the service.

Current customers can continue to use the company’s $29.99-a-month unlimited data plan, but new customers will be shunted to the new plan, which benefits light users of the data service but costs more for heavy users.

The company is betting that by curtailing downloads by heavy users, it can make the wireless Web more affordable for more people. If it reduces downloads, the new pricing plan may also ease capacity constraints that have caused network problems for the company in high usage areas such as New York.

The new plans would start at $15 a month for downloads of 200 megabytes of data. That equals about 400 web pages, 1,000 e-mails with no attachments, 50 online photos online or 20 minutes of video, according to AT&T.

If users exceed the 200 megabytes usage they will automatically be charged another $15 for another 200 megabytes. The company said 65 percent of its users use less than 200 megabytes of data per month.

The next tier costs $25 for 2 gigabytes of data, which is ten times more downloads than the 200 megabytes plan. AT&T said 98 percent of its customers use less than 2 gigabytes of data.

The $25-a-month customers will be charged another $10 a month for another gigabyte of data in the same month.

Users of Apple’s iPad, for which AT&T is also the only U.S. service, will be offered $25-a-month plans for 2 gigabytes of data, replacing the current $29.99 unlimited plan.

AT&T shares were up 17 cents to $24.50 in premarket trading.

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